Ed Schaller’s New York Division

Era 1972 – 1976
Area modeled Bethlehem Steel (MP 89) to Falling Springs (MP 187)
Scale HO
Layout location 16 x 24 ft basement room
Type Around the walls with center peninsula
Focus Balance of switching and mainline running
Min Rad 24″, with many mainline curves >30″
Staging capacity Buffalo Division: under center peninsula (reversing loop) – 8 trains.
Points east of Bethlehem & Allentown Yard connections: to be designed – probably under Bethlehem Steel (stub end) – 8 trains.

I am modeling a section of the Lehigh Valley mainline from Bethlehem to Coxton Yard, with VERY selective compression. My goal is to model the locations and structures well enough that people will recognize it as the Lehigh Valley RR, and model the operations selectively, so that they are reasonably faithful to the prototype. Basically, the modeled section of the railroad will have Bethlehem Steel at the east end and Coxton Yard at the west end. West end staging will represent the Buffalo Division, while east end staging will represent everything east of Bethlehem, plus connections through Allentown Yard.

I have a 16′ x 24′ basement space, and the layout is around the walls with a center peninsula. As you enter the room, Coxton is on the peninsula to your left. When the layout is completed, Bethlehem Steel will be along the wall to your right. As you face Coxton Yard, you are facing north. Trains enter past the Swanee Paper plant at Ransom (MP 190.6) from Buffalo Division staging, which is a reversing loop below the peninsula. As trains leave Coxton eastbound, they round the end of the peninsula into a “generic Penobscot Mountain / Lehigh Gorge” section that represents many different locations.

track plan

After passing the D&H connection at Dupont, which leads to two hidden staging tracks that will handle NE-87 and NE-84, trains climb through three levels on the peninsula (based on layout ideas proposed by John Armstrong and used on Allen McClelland’s V&O layout) to Crestwood Industrial Park at Mountaintop, passing the Owens-Illinois glass plant along the way. A track that runs along the base of this gorge section represents the “back track” to Wilkes-Barre, and also loops through the backdrop to Ransom, providing a loop for testing and breaking in locomotives.

Some of the “generic Lehigh Gorge” trackage will see double use – CD-2, the “Crestwood Comet,” climbing from Coxton to Mountaintop, will pass over trackage that represents M&H junction! Operators of CD-2 will just ignore that trackage. Likewise, AH-1 and HA-2, the “Hazleton Man”, will pass Crestwood Industrial Park and the Owens-Illinois plant to get to M&H Junction, and the operators will just have to imagine that they aren’t there! By doing this, I can get reasonable length runs between Coxton and Mountaintop, and between Allentown and Hazelton. It works for me, since Crestwood is served out of Coxton Yard, Hazelton is served out of Allentown Yard, and mainline symbol freights do no work at either location. The Hazelton branch will be located above the main line along one wall.

As the railroad takes shape, I hope to share it with you in photos and diagrams. I’d also like to share my experiences in building it.

– Ed Schaller

1 Coxton_8-30-04 The Buffalo Division staging is just visible below Coxton Yard in this view, and is the only part of the layout that is operational as of August 2004. The mainline track emerges from staging in the upper left of this photo, passing through the Swanee Paper mill at Ransom, represented by a box in this photo. Fortunately, the Swanee complex had an overhead bridge carrying pipes between two buildings, which will serve nicely to hide the edges of the hole in the backdrop!The turnout curving to the edge of the layout represents the West Pittston branch.Wiring the mainline and installing the Coxton yard tracks are the next milestones for this section. The yellow push pins mark turnouts that need adjustment. The mainline track laid so far is a combination of Micro Engineering track and Walthers code 83 turnouts, but you can see some Central Valley turnout kits laid in place for the yard tracks. If that goes well, I’ll probably be switching to CV products for the remainder of the layout.The track on the right is the hidden D&H staging that connects to the LV main at Dupont.
2 Penobscot-Gorge_8-30-04 After passing around the end of the backdrop, the double tracked mainline begins to climb Penobscot Mountain, in the center of the photo. The D&H connection at Dupont feeds in to the mainline just as it begins its climb at 2.5%.The highest level track visible in this shot represents Mountaintop. Certain-Teed in the Crestwood Industrial Park and Foster-Wheeler will be the only industries represented.The high level single track roadbed in the foreground will be replaced with a double track section to provide for switching the Owens-Illinois glass plant, whose trackage will be based on a sketch provided by Mike Bednar.
3 Bridge_Penobscot_8-30-84 As we walk into the Penobscot/Gorge section, Mountaintop is the highest level on the left. The mainline east of Dupont is just below Mountaintop in this photo, and to its right and below is the feeder track from Buffalo Division staging, curving around to enter the visible section at Ransom on the other side of the backdrop.The mainline curves to the right and loops to the other side of the aisle and back, following the basic trackplan used by Allen McClelland for his V&O layout. In the case of the V&O, all of this trackage was hidden, but on the Bethlehem & Penobscot, the foreground track will be a deck girder bridge based loosely on the bridge at White Haven.The small yard below the mainline loop will serve the Huber Breaker at Ashley. The right leg of the wye just visible under the mainline loop will go to hidden staging for Wilkes-Barre and an interchange run from E-L’s Taylor Yard.
4 support To keep as much floor space open as possible, the peninsula is hung from a stud wall, but I needed legs on the end of the peninsula for it to be stable enough to sit on.

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